The age for the onset of natural menopause averages around 50 for most women, however due to illness or genetics, some women experience symptoms before the age of 40. This is known as premature menopause.
Symptoms of premature menopause may include the following:
- Irregular periods or missed periods
- Heavier or lighter than usual periods
- Hot flashes over the upper body
- Vaginal dryness
- Emotional changes such as mood swings, mild depression and irritability
- Low libido
A simple blood test should be able to determine ovarian failure or POF, premature ovarian failure. Further blood tests will also detect low levels of estrogen and progesterone which will help determine if your ovaries are functioning normally. Low levels of estrogen can lead to changes in your overall health and increase your risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, colon and ovarian cancer. Women who undergo premature menopause are at a higher risk because they spend a greater portion of their lives without the protective benefits of their own estrogen.
Unfortunately premature menopause cannot be reversed. Once the process has started, it's highly unlikely it will reverse. As the body changes it's important to alter your lifestyle to accommodate the changes. A healthy lifestyle is very important because your body can handle the changes better with proper nutrition and exercise. These are the most important lifestyle changes to consider:
- Quit smoking or cut down drastically
- Cut down alcohol consumption
- Avoid stress
- Exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes
- Get regular breast examinations
- Increase your intake of whole grains, fiber, fruit and vegetables
- Avoid refined and sugary foods and caffeine
- Take supplements of B + E vitamins, Omega 3 and 6, and magnesium
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